The Closing Era (Denver, Colorado)

The Closing Era

Designed by Preston Powers, son of nationally famous sculptor Hiram Powers, “The Closing Era” at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver depicts a Native American triumphantly standing over a fallen bison. The artwork was created as a private project that fell through at the last minute and was exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

A ladies group wanted to buy the statue for the state of Colorado after seeing it at the World’s Fair, but Preston Powers refused the money and presented the sculpture to the state on his own. After the Exposition it was placed on permanent display on the Capitol’s East Lawn on a granite base.

Powers personally commissioned the poem on the granite base from his friend John Greenleaf Whittier.

The mountain eagle from his snow-locked peaks
For the wild hunter and the bison seeks,
In the chang’d world below; and find alone
Their graven semblance, in the eternal stone.

The Closing Era Facts

  • The granite base for the statue was produced in Fremont County, Colorado.
  • The sculpture was completed for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.
  • John Greenleaf Whittier, who wrote the poem inscribed at the base of the monument was a personal friend of Powers.
  • The Native American’s bow from the bronze sculpture, was once stolen and only discovered when it was tossed over the District 2 police station fence.
  • The sculpture was damaged during the bow’s removal and required special restoration to make it look like it originally did.
  • Though Powers taught sculpture at the University of Denver and was from a famous family, he died penniless in Florence, Italy, and was buried in the pauper’s section of the Allori Protestant Cemetery located outside the city.